THE KL Dragons, encouraged by their results in the inaugural Asean Basketball League (ABL), celebrated their success recently.
The dinner, hosted by KL Dragons owner Ruben Emir Gnanalingam, Datuk Robin Tan and Datuk Wira Dani Daim, was also in conjunction with Chinese New Year celebrations.
Ruben said they were proud of the team’s impressive outing in the ABL.
“We were not among the fancied teams but the players rose to the occasion and qualified for the play-offs. That was indeed inspiring and motivating. We have achieved something great with a small budget.
“We are now looking for a better season when the second edition of the ABL starts in October,” Ruben said.
The KL Dragons also named Cameroon’s Chris Kuete as the Most Valuable Player; Malaysia’s Loh Shee Fai as the Most Improved Player while the Philippines’ Rudy Lingganay was the Fans’ Player of the Season.
The KL Dragons, coached by Goh Cheng Huat, had 10 Malaysian players and five imports — Lingganay, Roel Hugnatan and Fhadzmir Bandaying, America’s Jamal Brown and Kuete — and gave a tough fight to top seeds the Philippines Patriots in the two leg playoffs.
In the first leg, played in Manila, the KL Dragons went down 43-77 while in the return leg in Kuala Lumpur, the KL Dragons put up a stronger challenge and were leading in the first three quarters before going down 65-70.
Ruben said KL Dragons would not rest on their laurels as they were eager to make a better and bigger impact in the ABL.
“We are going to start preparations soon. We have already drawn up our plans. First, we want to visit schools to promote basketball among students. It will start with the primary schools. We will be bringing our players to the schools.
“The primary schoolchildren will get a chance to meet the towering players who will be an inspiration to them,” he said.
The KL Dragons will be initiating some coaching clinics for secondary schools students in May. The programmes and clinics are aimed at increasing their fans base for the new season.
However, Ruben said they were looking for more sponsors to support KL Dragons. Last season, the KL Dragons had the support of Berjaya, Westports, Glocomp and Privasia.
“But we need more financial support to put up a stronger challenge against the established teams in the region,” he added.